Hoosier Manufacturing Outlook Strong, But Skills Shortage Grows

A University of Indianapolis associate professor of finance says while the outlook for Indiana's manufacturing sector is bright, there is a dark cloud that threatens the industry. In an interview on Inside INdiana Business Television, Matt Will said Hoosier manufacturers all say the same thing: "I need STEM workers, people with math skills and technology background... we're short in that area and we really need more workers."

Will added, while news of United Technology Corp.'s (NYSE: UTX) move of manufacturing from Indiana to Mexico grabbed national headlines, it belies an industry that has stabilized and is growing in Indiana. "The truth is, we've had a manufacturing influx in Indiana and Carrier is not the norm."

Last week, three companies announced plans for major investment in Indiana. General Motors Co. said it will pump $91 million into its longtime Marion Metal Center. In Seymour, Aisin USA Manufacturing says it will invest nearly $100 million into an expansion expected to create 100 jobs over the next two years. And Ken's Food's announced plans to invest $90 million and add 150 jobs in the Lebanon Business Park, which local officials say is part of a burgeoning food and beverage hub in Boone County.

Manufacturing currently accounts for about 16.8 percent of jobs in Indiana, up from 15.4 percent in 2009, but off the 15 year high of 21.6 percent in January of 2001.

Will says the numbers reflect a manufacturing base that is stable and continues to use technology to make things more efficiently. He also says there is evidence the state’s economy is diversifying.

"When you consider our population, on a per capita basis we're one of the best states in the country in new business creation and new jobs creation," said Will. "It's taken a lot of time to get here, but we're in the right place in the economy right now."

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